As the days past on the five forts began to take shape, tall reinforced wooden walls were erected and many small cabins were laid out inside. Guard towers were connected to the walls and the trenches with dozens of wooden spikes laid out inside them have turned into water filled moats thanks to the help of one of the princesses of Aurora.
Although a few finishing touches were needed, the forts could be considered fully functional as countless soldiers could be seen atop its walls.
It was only after the five forts were finished and numerous refusals from Zhang did one of Lord Tian Lan’s messengers finally arrive to inform Zhang that the fourth condition would be optional.
“I still don’t like this person…” Lingqi said with a snort after Tian Lan’s messenger arrived.
As the old saying goes, one should not teach others to beat their wives but one especially should not teach others to leave their wives.
As Lingqi and the other beauties saw it, Tian Alan was still deserving of their retribution for what he attempted to do. If their husband brought up the fact that he had fallen for yet another girl and had to marry her then at the very least the beauties would consider it, however for someone else to try to separate them was an unspeakable sin that needed to be punished.
“A virtuous person should pay no heed to scoundrels.” Ling said with a laugh as she saw how riled up Lingqi was.
After a quick word to some of his generals, Zhang, the beauties and a small unit comprised entirely of their elite guard began to move toward the Azure Tower with Tian Lan’s messenger as their guide.
To ensure the safety of their regular soldiers and to show a bit of sincerity while also abiding by Tian Lan’s wish for him to come personally, Zhang only brought the beauties and a small force of soldiers with him.
Although if he had left without them, the beauties would have more than likely snuck out of camp and tailed him anyway so rather than having him stalk him, Zhang opted to have them by his side where he could keep a watchful eye on them while being able to enjoy their company.
“I bet you would have happy to get rid of us and marry that lord’s daughter.” Yuying teased as the group traveled through the forest within their magical carriage while two hundred elite guard rode beside them on towering war stallions.
“How could I ever think that.” Zhang said as he wrapped his arms around Yuying’s waist.
“Dibs on the tower!” Ai yelled with a laugh as she landed on Zhang’s back and her arms hooked around his neck.
As uneventful as the rest of their trip to the Azure Tower was, Zhang and the beauties were able to spend some quality time with each other, joking and playing with one another to pass the time.
Although it was possible everything was simply a trap set by Lord Tian Lan, Zhang and the beauties figured they would never know unless they went to the Azure Tower to find out.
Best to knowingly walk into a trap while prepared for one rather leave opportunities unexplored and shooting down the possibility that Lord Tian Lan was truly surrendering.
Thanks to being led to the tower by Lord Tian Lan’s messenger, Zhang’s party was able to reach the fortress at the base of the mountain where the Azure Tower was in as little as half a day.
This was because Jiao Fu did not really have a proper map to guide him to the tower while the messengers that were sent by Lord Tian Lan knew the surrounding area like the back of their hands, from secret passes to hidden to secret routes.
Peeking out of the windows of their carriage, Zhang and the beauties were able to take in the splendor of the massive solid stone walls and the beautiful architecture of the buildings within the fort.
Although Jiao Fu had given them a full report regarding the layout of the fortress, Zhang and these beauties couldn’t help but be somewhat surprised when they laid eyes on the fort for the first time. It was a mystery how such a massive fortress could be built and hidden so deep within the mountains and forest.
“The number of people it would take to build a fortress of this size in a place like this…” Ling muttered as their carriage and escort of soldiers rode into the fortress.
Unlike Jiao Fu who was received by a mixture of emotions from the common folk, Zhang, and the beauties were simply given gazes full of reverence and intrigue, such is one of the perks of being royalty.
Normally people were in the presence of royalty, people often tried to act on their best behavior while being covered by a veil of curiosity. While in Zhang current case, when common folk was the presence of royalty from an enemy nation, they would either act violently or courteously.
Had Aurora been weaker than the Azure Rain Province, then the people would have openly scorned Zhang. But since Aurora was the more powerful of the two, the people were forced to act on their best behaviour toward Zhang and the beauties or else risk offending someone they should not. This was especially true if their lord was going to surrender.
By the end of the day, Zhang’s escort had arrived at the top of the mountain and at the base of the Azure Tower.
“Wahhh this thing is even bigger than I thought it would be.” Ai said with twinkling eyes as she walked out of the carriage and gazed at the Azure Tower in its full splendor.
“Welcome!” A loud voice could be heard.
As Zhang and the beauties looked toward the direction where the voice was coming from they could see a middle-aged man in an azure colored set of robes with a pair of guards standing by his side.
“You must be Lord Tian Lan.” Zhang said as he cupped his hand and preferred a slight bow. Although he was a prince and Lord Tian Lan was someone of a lower rank, Zhang had always acted respectfully to others based on seniority rather than social status. This was in probably l due to the influence of his memories from his previous life that Zhang acted this way since in his previous life everyone was treated roughly the same when meeting for the first time.
“No need to be so humble, Prince Zhang.” Lord Tian Lan said as his eyes scanned Zhang and the beauties from head to toe.
“I guess if I was in your shoes I wouldn’t think of divorcing these four either.” Lord Tian Lan laughed as he thought how silly he was asking Zhang to divorce the beauties and marry one of his daughters.
“Let alone a single province, I wouldn’t trade an empire for them.” Zhang said with a laugh while secretly trying to improve his image to the beauties even further.
“Now to see if this worked or not.” Zhang thought as he looked at his wives from the corner of his eye.
While Lingqi and Yuying looked rather impressed, Ling seemed to see through his ploy while Ai was preoccupied with looking the Azure Tower.
“Yang, Ying, the two of you should return to your rooms.” Lord Tian Lan said with a laugh as he looked at two beautiful young women who looked identical to one another.
“Twins….” Zhang thought as he laid eyes on Tian Lang’s daughters. Although when compared to the beauties one by one, Tian Lan’s daughters Tian Yang and Tian Ying were rather lacking. If they were presented together as a set of twins they’d be only a tiny bit less beautiful as the beauties.
“Maybe if I told him I would be willing to marry both of them as my concubines anyway…” Zhang thought, however, this thought was soon extinguished as he saw the look on the beauties faces.
“Let’s move to more pressing matters.” Zhang said with a cough.
“Yes, of course, we can discuss proposal gifts inside. I have a small banquet prepared already.” Lord Tian Alan said with a smile as he gestured toward the Azure Tower as he saw the beauties eyeing Zhang.
After walking up dozens of stone steps and entering the tower, Zhang felt a sudden jolt emit from the Underworld Heart that was lodged in his chest. Unbeknownst to everyone else besides Ai who showed a hint of a reaction, a wave of essence was sent out from the Underworld Heart.
This wave of essence bounced off of the walls of the tower as it traveled upward.
Not knowing what was occurring and not wanting to cause a scene, Zhang stayed silent and continued to follow behind Tian Lan.
“Were your ancestors the ones to build this magnificent tower?” Zhang asked as Tian Lan led the group through a beautifully decorated hallway.
“If only they did, your highness. Hundreds of years ago when my family took control of this province when it was simply uncharted territory, they found this tower. Legends said that when my ancestors saw the tower, it and the fortress below was actually said to be floating in the sky. However, from the time they saw it and the time it took for them to arrive where the tower was, the tower was not long levitating in the skies. Perhaps it was an optical illusion of sorts but till this day we are still not sure because even after hundreds of years this tower is still filled with mysteries that have yet to be solved. All I know is that although they couldn’t figure out why the tower appeared to be floating in the sky, my ancestors did find a white colored book on the top floor. The book did not have a title and strangely enough, no one had been able to open it.” Lord Tian Lan said.
“White colored book that can’t be opened…” Zhang thought as he recalled another book that couldn’t be opened. A book that told the originals of the Azure Dragon.
“Where is this book now?” Zhang asked, believing that there was a chance that the book that Lord Tian Lan’s ancestors found was actually the second part of the story of the Azure Dragon.
“About fifty years ago, our Azure Rain Province was invaded by the Shadow Hex Province. My grandfather along with fifty thousand elite soldiers rode out to repel the enemy, however after a bloody battle my grandfather was captured and his interspatial ring was taken.” Lord Tian Lan said with a sigh.
“So the book should be in the Shadow Hex Province.” Zhang thought.
“Now that the Shadow Hex Province’s Dark Legion has been defeated, there may be a day when the sacred book resurfaces again.” Lord Tian Lan said.
Moments later the group was led into a large hall where a banquet was already laid out and ready to be eaten.
As the banquet began, Zhang began to confirm Lord Tian Lan’s intentions of surrendering. Zhang found out Lord Tian Lan’s true intentioned behind poisoning all of the water sources and burning all of the cities and villages in the province.
In part, it was to show the Southern Alliance that the Azure Rain Province was still loyal while also testing Zhang’s forces. Lord Tian Lan also wished to see if Zhang was resourceful enough to make it through the few minor obstacles that he had set up.
After some more talking it turns out that Lord Tian Lan also did not actually wish to marry his daughters off to Zhang at all, rather his fourth condition was actually another test.
If Zhang chose to leave his wives for the sake of obtaining the Azure Rain Province, then that shows that Zhang is a heartless person who lacked loyalty.
“A person without a heart and isn’t even loyal to their spouses is not someone I could trust to ensure the safety of my family and my people.” Lord Tian Lan said as he gulped a cup of wine.
If Zhang was willing to sacrifice his wives to gain the province then he would be more than willing to sacrifice the people of the Azure Rain Province if there was a need for it, and that was not something Lord Tian Lan was willing to allow.
Once Lord Tian Lan and Zhang’s intentions were both made clear, the Azure Rain Province officially surrendered and was added to the Aurora Kingdom.
Although no major plans were put into motion it was decided that after a thorough inspection of the fortress it was decided that Zhang’s army would leave a small number of people in the five forts while the majority of the army would move into the fort.
This way they would be able to recuperate from their march through the Azure Rain Province for some time without worrying about possible enemy attacks until they began to march south once more.
“If you have anything you need feel free to roll me, your highness.” Lord Tian Lan said before he had some servants escort Zhang, the beauties and their soldiers to lodgings.
While being lead to his room, Zhang felt a sudden jolt come from the Underworld Heart once more. This time, the pulse of essence emitted from the Underworld Heart felt oddly different than the pulse before because this time it was not only Zhang who felt it.
“What was that?” Yuying said as she felt the pulse of essence.
“I don’t know.” Zhang said as another pulse of essence was emitted from the Underworld Heart. Before long a dozen or so pulses of essence was sent throughout the Azure Tower.
Up above the clouds at the very top of the Azure Tower was a silver colored ring that wrapped out of the exterior of the tower. As the dozen or so pulses of essence traveled out from the Underworld Heart and up the tower, countless runes began to appear on the silver colored ring.
Before long the entire ring glowed as it releases brilliant white light that pierced through the clouds.
The dazzling white light emitted from the silver ring drew the attention of all those in the surrounding areas as if it was some divine miracle.
While everyone was captivated by the light, the ground suddenly shook and something unbelievable occurred.